Twelfth Annual LACMA Muse Young Directors Night

February 26, 2013

The twelfth annual LACMA Muse Young Directors Night takes place this Saturday, March 2, at 8 pm. This evening, dedicated to cultivating and celebrating local film, is one of LACMA Muse’s most popular annual events.

More than two hundred films were submitted this year, representing every style and genre imaginable. There were foreign language films, silent films, animated films, and much more—with a thirty-minute time limit, the shortest submission was five seconds long and the longest was twenty-nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds.

From this incredibly diverse pool of submissions, seven spectacular films were selected as finalists, with seven unique filmmakers from different parts of the United States, all of whom currently reside in Los Angeles as they pursue their respective careers in filmmaking.

The featured films and their directors are:

Boom Box Kids, directed by Taylor Gledhill

A bro-mantic comedy set to the harmonious groove of the 1990s. Boy Band front men Curtis and Jayke must put aside their own solo ambitions lest they tear the band apart. Forever.

Cleaner, directed by Masami Kawai

Cleaner, directed by Masami Kawai

Cleaner, directed by Masami Kawai

At a Los Angeles dry cleaner, Jae pursues her desires as her mother struggles to keep the business going in the face of pressure from a crime syndicate. But when Jae decides to put an end to the extortion payments, the secrets of the past come to light.

Skip Town, directed by Banner Gwin

Skip Town is a conceptual visual interpretation of a piano piece written and performed by composer Nico Muhly. Gwin and Muhly collaborated to convey the themes of anxiety, panic, and encroaching doom visually, while focusing only on a single character with no dialogue, thus reverting back to the earliest tools of silent filmmaking.

Teens Like Phil, directed by Dominic Haxton

Inspired by real-life tragedies involving high school bullying, Teens Like Phil tells the story of a gay teen, Phil, and his classmate Adam, who brutally bullies him. The film explores the complicated and painful circumstances surrounding this relationship in an effort to better understand the roots of this aggression.

Sweet, Sweet Country, directed by Dehanza Rogers

Living in a small Southern town, twenty-year-old refugee Ndizeye struggles to support not only herself, but also the family she left behind in a Kenyan refugee camp. Her struggle becomes so much more when her family literally shows up at her doorstep.

To Beauty, directed by Jess Zakira Wise

To Beauty, directed by Jess Zakira Wise

To Beauty, directed by Jess Zakira Wise

An ode to Dadaism, To Beauty is a cinematic re-creation of six paintings by German artist Otto Dix.

Paulie, directed by Andrew Nackman

Paulie is a nine-year-old in the seventh grade. Used to being the smartest kid in the room, Paulie aces every test, wins every spelling bee and science fair, and does not lose. So when the bully Tony beats him one day at an essay contest, Paulie refuses to let it go.

After the films screen, there will be a discussion between the directors and the 2013 host panel: Josh Welsh and Maggie Mackay of Film Independent, Ken Jacobson of Palm Springs ShortFest, and filmmaker Tina Mabry, who will guide the conversation and explore the process and inspiration behind each featured film. The audience votes for best in show, and the host panel presents the Art of Film Award at the culminating reception, where complimentary beer, wine, and dessert will be served.

Tickets are $30 general admission, $25 for LACMA members, $20 for members of LACMA Muse and Film Club. The VIP ticket, which includes a three-course RED pop-up dinner created by chef Jason Fullilove, is also available.

Meghan McCauley, New Member Manager


A Summer with Stanley Kubrick

February 25, 2013

Stanley Kubrick was missing. The office he was using at MGM’s West 55th Street world headquarters in New York to supervise the national release of 2001: A Space Odyssey was empty, and nobody knew where the usually punctual film director was that morning, including me, his summer intern. Stanley being off of the grid, his own very meticulous grid, was unexpected, especially since he had control over MGM’s distribution of his movie, and the studio executives needed him available to approve their plans practically every day. Very few filmmakers had ever achieved that level of control and power over how their movies were marketed and exhibited. Kubrick already had final cut rights as a director, won after his experience with Spartacus, but final approval being given to a movie director for the marketing and distribution release strategies of his movie was just beginning to become a Hollywood deal point for the most successful filmmakers.

2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick (1965-68; GB/United States). Stanley Kubrick on set during the filming. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick (1965-68; GB/United States). Stanley Kubrick on set during the filming. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Another mystery quickly developed when the studio received a call from the manager of the Loews Capitol Theatre, MGM’s 5,500-seat showcase theater on Broadway (second largest in New York after Radio City Music Hall’s 5,700 seats). The projectionist was threatening to go on strike and close the theater, which meant no more showings of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Someone saying they were from MGM had gone into the projection booth and was using a chisel to file the aperture frame to remove the built up dust from the carbon arc projectors so that there would be sharp, not fuzzy, edges on the theater screen.

The arclight, or carbon-arc lighting, was the illumination source in movie projectors at the time. As the carbon rods burned down, they smoked and threw off dust that would adhere to the edges of the aperture frame with the result of projecting fuzzy edges on the screen. Kubrick did not like the distraction of fuzzy edges, so he brought his chisel into the projection booth to clean the edges so 2001 would be seen with crisp, clean edges on the screen. The mystery of where Kubrick had been was solved, and all future projectionists of 2001: A Space Odyssey would receive written instructions from the director stating how he expected his movie to be projected.

2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick (1965-68; GB/United States). The astronaut Bowman (Keir Dullea) in the storage loft of the computer HAL. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick (1965-68; GB/United States). The astronaut Bowman (Keir Dullea) in the storage loft of the computer HAL. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The smallest details, such as removing the built-up arclight dust, never escaped Stanley Kubrick, who was always finding new ways to ensure that his standards were met. The studio had given him an office with a small conference room attached to it, where he stationed me with his instructions. First thing every morning I was to go to the international newsstand on Broadway and collect newspapers from every major American city. Next, I was to tear out the page that had the ad for 2001 and place it on top of the pile for that city. The perimeter of the conference room floor was lined by stacks of tear sheets from newspapers from all of the major cities, with the most recent ads being placed on top of each city’s pile. Kubrick showed me how to measure advertising space using an agate ruler that equated fourteen lines to an inch, which was how advertising space was measured and purchased.

Equipped with my resources, I would wait for the phone to ring and hear him say something like “Chicago, June 20,” or “Miami, July 15.” Quickly, I would pull the tear sheet from the stack and measure the lines of advertising and compare it to the advertising schedule the studio promised him. The under or over differential was all he wanted to know. I would stick my head through the connecting door and make a simple report such as “Chicago, June 20, under by six inches (or 84 lines).” I never found an overage. The studio was constantly purchasing less ad space than they promised him, and he always challenged them and insisted on additional advertising to make up the difference.

What was revelatory to me was not so much his meticulous process and attention to even the smallest details, but his absolute power. I was being paid by the studio to work for him as an auditor to uncover their deficiency and tell him. As a very young teenager, I realized how important it was for Kubrick to control every aspect of his movies, and to this day—from 2001 to Lolita to A Clockwork Orange—one can see what a difference that attention to detail made.

Tim Deegan, Director of Guest Services


Dreaming America in Lost Line

February 21, 2013

LACMA, in many ways, bears the flags of hundreds of nations, for we keep the treasures of many beloved cultures. Many who walk through our galleries are proud that their culture is present. So in Lost Line: Contemporary Art from the Collection, a stunning exhibition, which closes this Sunday, February 24, in which landscape—a fundamental visual construct—has been re-envisioned and put in new contextual dimensions, a sort of reframing. It is not merely a nineteenth-century Thomas Cole painting or Frederic Edwin Church’s wonder of an American Eden, which are beautifully displayed in Compass for Surveyors on the third level of the Arts of the Americas Building.

Frederic Edwin Church, Lower Falls, Rochester, 1849, signed and dated lower left: F.E. CHURCH 1849, gift of Charles C. and Elma Ralphs Shoemaker

Frederic Edwin Church, Lower Falls, Rochester, 1849, signed and dated lower left: F.E. CHURCH 1849, gift of Charles C. and Elma Ralphs Shoemaker

But the whole experience of our modern world is thrown into hard, fragmentary, fascinating relief. Here the contemporary “-isms” are not in some evolutionary steps toward an unknown apex. Instead, they are seen through their separate perceptions with a central thematic conceptual idea. Artists across generations, such as Buckminster Fuller, Robert Smithson, Erin Shirreff, Gabriel Orozco, and many more, dynamically re-imagine the complex contemporary view of our world as representations that filter through maps, paintings, sculptures, including land art as conceptual projections devising different ways and photography as metaphor that questions our role in nature.

Installation view, Lost Line: Contemporary Art from the Collection, November 15, 2012–February 24, 2013, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, Lost Line: Contemporary Art from the Collection, November 15, 2012–February 24, 2013, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Viewing these works is like passing through the landscape with new eyes and experiencing multifaceted forms in which the unexpected lies in wait. This is more of an investigation into an aesthetic range, from monuments to concrete urban constructs, from the beauty of dirt to abstract painting, from enhanced realism to collage and video—not mere idealization but a brute realism with refined ulterior aspects. We are made to sense a more complex existence.

Installation view, Lost Line: Contemporary Art from the Collection, November 15, 2012–February 24, 2013, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

Installation view, Lost Line: Contemporary Art from the Collection, November 15, 2012–February 24, 2013, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, photo © 2013 Museum Associates/LACMA

But, of course, such an art can hold unexpected surprises, as I was to find out. And that such a moment would produce a shock and a tonic of sheer sentimentally vibrant emotion was indeed a wonder. The arena of the sentimental, the characteristics of which have been alienated in our super-cool cultural self-image, can play as an impulse on one’s most simplistic notions of national brotherhood and national identity. A gated no-man’s-land for the so-called serious instinct suddenly surrenders to our base feelings.

Steve, McQueen,Static (still), 2009, 35mm film transferred to HD video,gift of Steve Tisch, © 2012 Steve McQueen

Steve, McQueen,Static (still), 2009, 35mm film transferred to HD video,gift of Steve Tisch, © 2012 Steve McQueen

So there I was in the midst of an unrealized seduction, while a video by the British artist Steve McQueen called Static wove its (white) magic on the simplest of terms. At first, the piece didn’t seem particularly unique or even daring. It even seemed to have some of Bruce Nauman’s ironic ordinariness, which could so often lead to a dead end. While I was watching Static, time slipped a beat, and I could say I was kind of dizzy, or better, mesmerized. The Statue of Liberty was in motion. She seemed to move through the hazy populated landscape, passing over the plated silver of the water, and backgrounded by the checkerboard geometry of glass-wall buildings. Black boats were caught in the glow of a hidden sun on the distant horizon. Lady Liberty seems to see and hear everything that we do—the aberrant sound of a helicopter—a voice, so to speak—injected into those regrettable wars and their movies, both real and surreal. They are our nightmare sounds, our dumb call to battle— “. . . the smell of napalm in the morning” —those crazy blades cutting the air, slicing memories up. And then there is beautiful silence as she twirls me back to some giant American meaning—perhaps something heroic in spite of it all was grand and sad.

My chest swelled in a counterclockwise motion, and I felt the distinct jab of a patriotic moment.  I was nearly hypnotized by this monumental American icon,  by the jerking, jittery gold flame erratically shifting up and down.

Hylan Booker

Lost Line: Contemporary Art from the Collection is on view through Sunday, February 24, in BCAM. Members see this exhibition and all others for free. 


New Acquisition: 46 Photos by Edward Steichen

February 20, 2013

As you may have read in the New York Times over the weekend, LACMA is one of three recipients of Edward Steichen photographs from the collection L.A.-based donors Richard and Jackie Hollander. The Hollanders have generously given 142 photographs, split amongst LACMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. The photographs given to LACMA range from 1913 to 1938, and many of them are portraits of actors or artists, among others. You’ll have your first opportunity to see these photographs in the galleries later this summer; in the meantime, here’s a taste of some of the works joining our collection.

Edward Steichen, Brancusi, Voulangis, France, 1922, reproduced with permission of Joanna T. Steichen, gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander

Edward Steichen, Brancusi, Voulangis, France, 1922, gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander, © permission the Estate of Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen, Flowers, 1921, reproduced with permission of Joanna T. Steichen, gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander

Edward Steichen, Flowers, 1921, gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander, © permission the Estate of Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen, Mr. & Mrs. Vogel, 1928, reproduced with permission of Joanna T. Steichen, gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander

Edward Steichen, Mr. & Mrs. Vogel, 1928, gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander, © permission the Estate of Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen, The Child Man, Mayan Indians, Mexico, 1938, gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander, © permission the Estate of Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen, The Child Man, Mayan Indians, Mexico, 1938, gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander, © permission the Estate of Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen, Untitled (couple lying on sand), c. 1928, gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander, © permission the Estate of Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen, Untitled (couple lying on sand), c. 1928, gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander, © permission the Estate of Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen, Sunflower in a White Vase, Part of Series "Sunflowers from Seed to Seed," 1920–1961, gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander, © permission the Estate of Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen, Sunflower in a White Vase, Part of Series “Sunflowers from Seed to Seed,” 1920–1961, gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander, © permission the Estate of Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen, Self-portrait, c. 1920, gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander, © permission the Estate of Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen, Self-portrait, c. 1920, gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander, © permission the Estate of Edward Steichen

Scott Tennent


The American Art Gallery and Geography

February 19, 2013

Recently, masterworks from LACMA’s American Art collection went on loan to Korea as part of the exhibition Art Across America. That presented an opportunity to rethink how our American Art galleries were installed. While researching the collection, co-curators Jose Luis Blondet and Austen Bailly found many connections between representations of the East and West coasts which they have creatively displayed in the installation Compass for Surveyors: 19th Century American Landscapes. Here, Jose Luis discusses the ideas behind the reinstallation of the galleries and how ideas of the American East and West play into the geography of the gallery itself.


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